Grateful for 19 blood donors who saved my life!
Willis tells how one decision changed his life. Today, he is a advocate for people with disabilities. He also encourages everyone who is able to give blood. You never know whose life you can save or when you might be the one who needs blood to survive.
Ada Celebrates Life with Lauryn
Like many 6-year-old little girls, Lauryn Watkins enjoyed dancing, singing and pretending she’s a princess. But during those carefree years, life for this vibrant child wasn’t carefree.
Lauryn was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in February 2010. It began with symptoms similar to a sinus infection. Rounds of antibiotics provided no relief, and, additionally, Lauryn would randomly spike a fever and suffer from intense leg pains causing her to crawl instead of walk.
After a year-and-a-half battle, it became clear that cancer picked the wrong princess. Though she endured two bone marrow biopsies, many spinal taps, numerous doses of intense chemotherapy drugs and more, Lauryn has now been cancer free for several years.
She received the generous, life-saving gift of blood from six Oklahoma Blood Institute donors in order to survive. Her mother, Sherri Ellis, says she appreciates those who have helped Lauryn get through very difficult times.. “I urge anyone who’s able to donate to do so, in order for lives to continue to be saved.”
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This Cowboy and Sooner have a special bond!
Tyler Zander, Stillwater, and Teresa Keever, Edmond, are examples of Oklahomans divided by Bedlam yet united through blood donation. It took 97 blood donors to save Tyler’s life in 2010 when he was in a grain elevator accident that severed his leg and left him battling for life for four months. Even that didn’t slow down his lifelong dream to attend OSU where he is a senior. Recently, he met Teresa, one of those who saved his life, and learned she is an avid Sooner. “On the field, we may be different – Cowboy and Sooner – but we’re all Oklahomans,” Tyler said. Teresa agreed. “When I donate, I don’t bleed crimson or orange. I bleed love.”
Purple Heart Recipient Finds Reward In Blood Donation
by Jessica Rose, Community Relations Intern
After nearly giving his life for his country, Staff Sergeant Chas Schroeder, 33, says donating blood with Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) is something else he just has to do.
The Fort Sill Staff Sergeant suffered shrapnel wounds to his groin and a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan in 2011. Schroeder and his battalion were attacked by enemy fighters and took hits to their ammunition bunker from rockets. His injuries occurred as he saved the lives of fellow soldiers. For his bravery, SSG Schroeder received the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star and the National Defense Service Medal.
Briley Hostas Story
The Hostas family glowed with joy at the birth of their first child, Briley. They could have never imagined their precious daughter would need blood transfusions for serious medical conditions not once, but twice, before she turned 5!
Life was great for the Hostas with lively, happy Briley who seemed healthy. But things changed quickly, and Briley was diagnosed with leukemia, a blood cancer. At age 3, she was hospitalized and needed blood from numerous donors as she battled for her life. In just three months’ time, she required as much as six platelet transfusions.
“Each time Briley received the blood transfusions, we were just so thankful that there was blood ready and available for her,” said John Hostas. Thankfully, the chemotherapy treatments seemed to be working.
But just a year later, the Hostas had another scare. In May 2012, they received a call that Briley and her grandmother had been in a terrible car accident. Briley’s grandmother Gloria had taken Briley shopping when a semi-truck T-boned the car. Briley broke both of the femurs in her legs. Sadly, Gloria didn’t survive the crash.
Once again, Briley and her family needed blood donors to help them through a crisis. Blood from four donors during Briley’s two-week hospital stay helped her heal.
It’s an understatement to say that Briley’s leukemia and the car crash changed the way the Hostas family views blood donation.
“Neither one of us ever gave blood before Briley was diagnosed. We just didn’t think about it,” John said. “But now we give blood every time we can, because it really does save lives, including our little Briley’s.”
Briley completed her treatment for leukemia on March 30, 2013. Now at age seven, Briley is active and playful, ready to take on third grade.
“Without the Blood Institute, it is possible that Briley would not have received the blood she needed to stay alive,” said John. “We are very thankful for all of the blood donors that take the time to go out, give and really make a difference.”
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How Blood Donors Saved My Life
by Erin Green, blood recipient
October 17, 2013 did not go as anyone had pictured it. It started as a day filled with anticipation and excitement as I was admitted to the labor and delivery floor to have our first child – a baby girl we named Georgia. It was the day after my due date, so she was actually quite punctual. After a pretty easy labor and a smooth delivery of our 8 pound, 8 ounce healthy baby girl, I began feeling ill. The medical staff equated it with a drop in my blood pressure and tilted my bed back to make me feel better, which worked initially. I had lost more blood than normal during the delivery, and it still seemed like there was something wrong. My doctor told me that I was continuing to bleed and she couldn’t see where it was coming from, so we needed to go to the operating room (OR) to get a better look.
I ended up developing a very rare condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) that kept my blood from clotting normally. DIC has a high mortality rate and is difficult to control. I lost over three liters of my own blood and was in the OR for more than 3 intense hours while numerous physicians, CRNAs, nurses and technicians worked to stop my bleeding. I received 12 units of blood, 6 units of fresh frozen plasma, and 2 units of platelets before I finally became stable and the bleeding was controlled. What had started as a happy, exciting day had ended in a roller coaster of emotions as my family waited to hear good news about my condition. The next morning I woke up intubated in the critical care unit where I stayed for two days before being able to move back to the labor and delivery floor with my husband and new baby girl. We stayed a total of 5 days in the hospital before we finally brought our little girl home with grateful hearts for the miracle that took place in our lives.
A few weeks after going home from the hospital I had the opportunity, along with my husband Todd and our daughter, to meet some employees from the Arkansas Blood Institute. I was able to thank them and to let them see, first hand, the benefits and changed lives that resulted from the work that they do every day. It was a humbling experience to say the least.
Unfortunately, I have to say that I’ve never donated blood in the past; however, the Arkansas Blood Institute has gained a lifelong blood donor after my experience. If it wasn’t for blood, plasma, and platelet donors, the skilled medical staff wouldn’t have had the resources they needed to save my life and my Georgia would’ve grown up without her mother. I cannot express the extent to which blood donors have affected our family’s life. They kept our world from falling apart that day. Without them, I wouldn’t be enjoying the blessing of becoming a mother to a healthy, happy little girl. Donating blood is such an easy way that each one of us can give back and change the lives of not only recipients but their loved ones as well. My daughter gets to know her mommy in part because a dozen people decided to donate blood.
We would like to thank Erin for using “Share Your Story” to tell us her story.
All In: Donor Gives Blood and Estate
by Gary Lynch, director of Development & Sustainability
“I’m a platelet donor, but I don’t feel at ease without a knife or fork,” quipped James Hellams, OKC. His enthusiasm for our life-saving mission has driven him to give 71 gallons (and counting). That’s about 568 times in a donor chair. That’s plenty of time to become renowned as the ‘class clown’ of the central OKC donor center! Now, James is taking his commitment even further. He has designated Oklahoma Blood Institute as the sole beneficiary of his estate.
James has no immediate family, yet wants to be sure he leaves a legacy with the sizeable estate he has been fortunate enough to accumulate. James’ faith has profoundly influenced his belief in the sanctity of life, and leaving his entire estate to Oklahoma Blood Institute manifests that belief.
Our Legacy Society honors financial contributors who include Oklahoma Blood Institute in their estate plans. James will be listed among these generous contributors. Learn about the various ways you can support our life-saving mission.